My Child Lebensborn
My Child Lebensborn is a 2018 social simulation game developed by Sarepta Studio and published by Teknopilot for iOS, Android, Windows, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. The player takes the role of parenting a lebensborn child in Norway after World War II and helps them to navigate growing up and bullying that they face because of their background. The game received praise for its portrayal of emotional trauma, but reviewers noted that the game could be tough to play through.
My Child Lebensborn
In My Child Lebensborn, the player plays as an adoptive parent of a lebensborn child in Norway after World War II. The player must make choices based on off-screen events (e.g. responding to child being bullied at school) and help to take care of them at home (e.g. making food for them). Each day, there are two units of time that the player can use to help to make sure the child's "need" meters do not empty. At the end of each chapter of the game, the player sees how their decisions fall on an emotional spectrum and how it has affected the player's child.
While Elin Festøy was developing a documentary about the children of lebensborn, she decided instead to focus on a project that would elicit empathy for the children amongst a broader audience. She met developer Catharina Bøhler, a developer who was already creating a child nurturing game, and they created what Festøy called "a documentary game". Festøy was concerned that a documentary film would just be a movie about old people talking about war, and felt that a video game would work better to show the story of what the children had to go through. "We want to make people know what it felt like for those kids," Festøy said. "We want to highlight how war isn't over until the hatred ends. Our game will be a simulator letting you experience first hand what it is like to grow up in a hateful society, focused on the situation of the child instead of the greater conflict." The game was among the first wave of video game titles that were permitted to display the swastika in Germany. The game was funded partially by a Norwegian government arts grant, and partially through a successful Kickstarter campaign.
But with the fighting over, Hitler dead, and the Nazi regime toppled, many of these kids were given up for adoption, becoming the unwitting outlet for Norwegians built up frustrations and hatred for the collective trauma they survived. They were branded as children of the enemies. Nazi kids.
In My Child Lebensborn, you play as one of these adoptive parents. Living in a small provincial town, you juggle the mundane struggles of parenthood with the impossible task of trying to brace a child for the undeserved consequences of their birthright.
Stepping back for a moment, this lack of consequences makes perfect sense in a meta context. Teknopilot, the Norweigan production company behind My Child Lebensborn, has largely marketed it as an interactive documentary or an educational tool. The game uses the interactivity inherent to the medium to foster empathy and compassion for the plight of war children, building a more emotional connection than simply learning the history might be able to. Playing is ancillary to that end.
My Child Lebensborn (sometimes punctuated as My Child: Lebensborn) is a story-driven Raising Sim set in post-World War II Norway. The narrative aspect is based on the childhood of people who were born as part of Nazi Germany's local implementation of the Lebensborn program and grew up being stigmatized because of their origins. It was originally released as a mobile game in 2018, and was ported to other platforms, including PC and consoles, in 2021.
During World War II, Norway is one of many countries occupied by Nazi Germany. Due to many of the locals having the physical features desired for Germany's Lebensborn Super Breeding Program, many German soldiers came to father children with local women. When the war ended and the occupying forces left, a significant number of the Lebensborn children were left with now-single mothers unable or unwilling to care for them, resulting in them being put up for adoption.
The Child's personality is mostly characterized by the choices made by the player. Initially, the child will begin optimistic and hopeful but over the course of the game, the child will experience bullying and abuse by his/her classmates and the townsfolk. The player will help shape how the Child deals with these struggles. Ultimately deciding if he/she becomes withdrawn or non-trusting of strangers.
The Child was born on 18 August 1944 in Hammerstad, in Occupied Norway, to the German soldier Heinz Fleischer and his Norwegian partner Siri Fjellvik as part of the Lebensborn programme. His/her mother left the child in the care of a Lebensborn home. Karin/Klaus was numbered child "4812" and for the rest of the war, was cared for by German nurses at a convalescent home called Godthaab in Norway. Once the war ended, the Norwegian Government emptied the lebensborn homes and sent the child to live with his/her grandparents Wilhelm and Hannelore in Germany. The Child stayed with their grandparents for two years, affectionately calling his/her Grandma "Ommi", a name that they he/she would remember years later. In 1947, the International Red Cross put pressure on the Norwegian Government to retrieve the Norwegian Lebensborn childern. The grandparents were ordered to send the child to a children's home "Sonnenwiese" in Leipzig, for transport back to Norway.
The child will draw pictures throughout the game revealing how they really feel about certain situations, some drawings will start out positive but gradually decline being scribbled out or just be overtly negative. He/She will draw moments special to them and moments where they are abused.
A new teacher starts at the school called Mr. Berg. At first, the child is unsure about the new teacher and wonders if he will be strict. He turns out to be nice and works to protect the child from bullying. Unlike the other teachers and townsfolk, Mr Berg does not resent the Klaus/Karin for his/her German origins and only wishes that him/her to do well in school and be treated just like any other child. Karin/Klaus under his teaching begins to prosper at school and passes a test leading to Mr Berg saying that Karin/Klaus is one of the smartest kids in his class. For the first time, the child begins to truly enjoy attending school.
After exchanging letters with the child's mother's side of the family, they arrange a trip to go meet Klaus's/Karin's aunt Anne and grandparents. They decide to go by train, which excites the child profusely, and he/she draws a picture of a train and keeps asking questions about the train ride. While on the train, the child looks out the window, dazzled by the passing view. Two passengers on the train talk aloud disparaging the child and other Lebensborn children. Once they've arrived, the child meets his/her grandparents and aunt. The grandparents, resentful of the child's German heritage begin to belittle and berate Klaus/Karin. Anne tries to remain civil and asks her parents to be nice. After a heated exchange, the child and her/his caretaker leave, and Anne gives them some helpful documents and wishes them a safe trip back. Klaus's/Karin's day is ruined and he/she remains quiet for the rest of the day.
For May 17th, "Constitution Day", the school sets up its own place to watch the yearly parade. Klaus/Karin really looks foward to celebrating the day and asks his/her adoptive parent's premision to attend. The neighbourhood council warns the child and his/her caretaker to stay away from the parade or else. Mr Berg tells the child that he will look out for them and support them attending the parade. After a few days, Mr. Berg informs the Klaus/Karin that he is leaving and that his last day will be the parade. The news deeply upsets him/her. The Adoptive Parent has to decide whether or not to allow the Child to attend the parade. The child asks for a flag to wave for the parade.
On "Constitution Day", Klaus/Karin attends the parade but is bullied by the other children, he/she no longer wants to stay untill Mr. Berg approaches and tells them that he saw what happened and intends to punish the kids. Mr. Berg finally talks with the child's adoptive parent and offers to accompany Klaus/Karin at the parade so he/she can fully enjoy it. The Child participates, holding hands with Mr Berg and waving his/her flag and genuinely loving the day. Just as he said he would, Mr Berg leaves, and Klaus/Karin sees this as another person abandoning him/her. 041b061a72